Before coming to Sarajevo, I did not have an image of what the city would look like. Famous for being the place where archduke Franz Ferdinand was killed in 1914, an event that sparked World War I, the Olympic Winter Games of 1984, and the 3,5 year siege of the city from 1992 to 1995, the city certainly held a historic ring. I had heard friends tell me enthusiastically about the city, but when I walked out of my central hostel on a sunny morning, I did so with an open and curious mind. Sarajevo soon turned out to be a unique, beautiful city, bearing clearly visible signs of it being at the crossroads between the East and West, or, as the Bosniaks would say, the most western city of the East, and the most eastern city of the West.
Its western appearance was given to Sarajevo during the period when the Austro-Hungarians ruled the city. The more you walk around in the city, the more you see buildings that remind you of its rich history. In Sarajevo, you can walk from Istanbul to Vienna, and Budapest, in a matter of minutes. The Ferhadija street has a high concentration of classical buildings, and so have the riverbanks of the Mijacka: in order to tame the river, the Ottoman buildings on both sides were destroyed in the late 19th century, and replaced by remarkable edifices of Austro-Hungarian design. Despite the terrible destruction inflicted on this capital during the siege, many of these buildings are still there; many were repaired.
One primary example of such a building is the National Library, a colossal, red-yellow building with classical and Moorish styles blended into one. It was deliberately destroyed during the war, and it is finally back to its former glory. It was finished when I was there, but not yet open to the public. I walked the river banks, to see buildings such as the University rectorate and the Post Office, both richly adorned with sculptures. Of course, the Latin Bridge, close to which Franz Ferdinand was killed. There is a school building which resembles a smaller version of the Parliament building of Budapest. Walking up to Petrakijina street, where I found a row of remarkable buildings with small towers, sculptures, stairs, and an elegant appearance, considered the best examples of Austro-Hungarian residential houses in Sarajevo. The first one, Villa Mandić, subsequently housed the US consulate, the British ambassador, and the museum of the XIV Olympic Winter Games, but it was partly destroyed by fire in 1992, and looks abandoned right now. A little higher up, the Heinrich Reiter and the Herman Radisch Villa are all fine examples of early 20th century architecture from the Austro-Hungarian period.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Austro-Hungarian Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Austro-Hungarian Sarajevo. Read more about this site.